Christians Sentenced to Prison as ‘Moderate’ Comes to Power in Iran

ICC Note: As the world watched the outcome of the presidential elections six Christians in southern Iran were sentenced to prison sentences of more than three years for practicing their Christian beliefs. Newly elected president Rouhani is not as brash as his predecessor Ahmadinejad but there is little optimism that the situation will improve for Christians in Iran.

6/19/2013 Iran (Morning Star News) – Six more Christians were sentenced for practicing their faith last week, while Iran’s presidential election of a moderate politician was not expected to soften the regime’s persecution of religious minorities.

After eight years of the hard-line rule of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hassan Rouhani proclaimed a “victory for moderation … not extremism,” expressed desire to rebuild bridges between Iran and the United States and promised to reopen stalled nuclear talks, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

While there has been optimism that the election of Rouhani and promises of reform will bring greater freedoms for persecuted religious minorities in Iran, an analyst said little will change as long as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei controls the country’s political destiny.

“[Khamenei] remains at the helm, and he has set course for utter destruction of the Christian faith in Iran,” Tiffany Barrans, international legal director for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) told Morning Star News. “His course was well-laid long before this election, and there is no sign that he plans to change course.”

The Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, 571 miles (920 kilometers) south of Tehran, issued prison sentences of 44 months to Mojtaba Seyyed-Alaedin Hossein, Mohammad-Reza Partoei, Vahid Hakkani, and Homayoun Shokouhi for “attending a house church, spreading Christianity, having contact with foreign ministries, propaganda against the regime, and disrupting national security,” according the Mohabat News Agency.

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